Visiting sailing boats are boosting local economy

Visiting sailing boats are boosting local economy

17 May 2017

THE rise in visitors coming to Strangford by boat is having an impact on the local economy.

Last year, nearly 400 yachts and motor boats tied up at the Strangford Yacht Haven pontoons — an increase of nearly a third on the previous year.

Most of these boats came from Belfast Lough and Strangford Lough but 175 came from further afield — nearly double the number of the 2015 season.

The figures have been welcomed by Brian Black, chairman of Strangford Yacht Haven, who 

says the visitors have benefited the local economy.

“Putting a hard commercial figure on this is difficult, but various official bodies reckon that a 

visiting yacht with a crew of four will probably spend in excess of £120 per night ashore in local restaurants, shops and pubs,” he said.

The pontoon company, which operates as a not-for-profit business limited by guarantee, charges a nominal amount for use of the facilities.

With careful financial management and as funds become available, the directors have managed to make several much-needed contributions to local community groups over the last four years and are hoping to do something similar at the end of the coming season.

The winter refit for the Yacht Haven is now complete and the facility is poised for the 2017 season. 

The Yacht Haven was initially supported by the Rural Development Programme and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

When it proved its value as a visitor attraction, the former Down District Council, along with the NI Tourist Board, made funds available to extend the facility and to upgrade existing visitor moorings. 

“Although the Yacht Haven is specifically intended to prioritise visiting boats during the sailing season, the pontoons are also made available to facilitate local skiff training operations during the winter period when most yachts are out of commission,” Mr Black explained.  

“We are delighted to see the Yacht Haven going from strength to strength, achieving the tourism targets laid down by the funding bodies and providing much-needed support to local businesses.”

Mr Black added: “We are now looking ahead to consider expansion possibilities in future years.”